Review

Madden NFL 2005

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Developer: Tiburon Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: August 9, 2004 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2, & Xbox

It is considered by many to be the most recognizable game in the gaming era. Coming into its 15th season, Madden Football will have a tough time bringing down competitors this year with ESPN. Though there was a price drop to $30, it seems as though ESPN has edged out EA’s giant. Is it because the Madden team is losing it touch at making the best football game out there? Could it be that Madden had reached its peak last year? I doubt it. There are many things Madden has that ESPN would not be able to muster in a single year; a solid fanbase. All the publicity and hype behind Madden games is what keeps it in the spotlight. Does this year’s Madden really match up with Sega?

With every season of Madden, you get an update visually. The new version however seems to take a step back in lower quality compared to last year. While there are many new animations including cut-scenes of end zone fans, it doesn’t look as nice as 2004. While the stadiums are well done, the area outside and above just look unrealistic and painted there compared to ESPN. The fans really weren’t given much detail, though you do see about 5 of them in cut-scenes that are decent. ESPN gives you a virtual crowd unlike EA’s flat model. A huge difference if you ask me as far as standards are concerned. Player faces have become more refined and have a resemblance to their lifelike counterparts. Character models however seem to be a tad weak and don’t even have staining of uniforms anymore like in past games. Whatever is wrong with the engine, I can’t seem to put my finger on it. I prefer the art from 2004 more so than 2005.

Still being the area that needs the most help, commentary is what brings Madden down. With an all-star tag team of Madden and Michaels, you would expect the play by play and color to be great. However, Al and John seem to repeat dialogue way too frequently and most of it can be found in previous versions of the game. The soundtrack however is still one of the best in all sports games. Bringing top artists into play during mini games and menus really brings an edge to EA. Gameplay effects are also a strong point that Madden can wave around at ESPN. It is becoming difficult to make the sound better than it already is however. You can only hope with the addition of ESPN next season will put this area over the top for Madden.

The familiar gameplay of Madden returns, giving players a comfortable feeling game for them to play and really making it easy to jump into. Even for new players, Madden won’t stress you out in order to get the gist of it. The catch is playing defense is still fairly poor. While the addition of the tackle stick is nice, defensive backs still tend to play like Swiss cheese on lower difficulties. This poses a challenge for players to keep opponent’s scores down unless they are good at using a defensive back manually.

Offense is still the best in all the football games. Passing and running are still quite balanced, giving you an enjoyable experience to play with. It does seem to be a lot less realistic compared to ESPN though. It really is quite possible to throw for 500 yards or rush for 300 easy in 5 minute quarters if you are good. Not being able to fine tune the difficulty settings as deeply as Sega to better meet your play needs is quite a downer. Being able to adjust against your strengths and lower areas of weakness really helps to fine tune your game and help you get better.

Other than the tackle stick, there wasn’t much else added to Madden. Franchise mode has newspapers that show how teams are being viewed by the media, locally and nationally. You also have the radio that tells of some of the things going on throughout the league. Owner’s Mode is basically the same as last year, as is the stadium creator. No new mini games have been added since they were put into the Madden franchise during the 2003 game which is something they should really look into. For the most part, all 2005 has is upgraded rosters that is really worth anything.

The lasting impact of Madden is that it’s fun to play. The franchise mode gives players a reason to stick around for a bit without online play. Those with online for PS2 and Xbox will be happy and addicted to the disease that is competition. Madden is one game that anyone can pick up and enjoy without any real skill. That is just about the best thing about Madden’s fanbase. It is so diverse that you never know who you will be playing online. I recommend that if you want the online experience and familiar control scheme, spend the extra on Madden. With deep gameplay elements however, ESPN is difficult to pass up for its $20 tag. Let’s hope Madden doesn’t go downhill having any competition next year in the NFL game market.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.5
Written by Shawn Review Guide

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